From the February/March 2022 Issue  

Small but Mighty

Writer Meg Fox  |  Photographer Mike Van Tassell  |  Designer Sharon Sherman, ASID, CKD, CID, NCIDQ  |  Location Franklin Lakes, NJ

“A place for everything and everything in its place was the motto for this kitchen,” designer Sharon Sherman says

Cabinetry — glazed and painted in a soft blue/gray tone — “evokes a calm, serene atmosphere while the tile backsplash provides a bit of sparkle,” designer Sharon Sherman says. Customized drawers for dishware and heavier cookware are located below the countertop, improving accessibility and ease of use.

Limited storage and countertop space and poor lighting plagued Lorna Blauvelt and Jack Rihlmann’s kitchen in Franklin Lakes, New Jersey, says Sharon Sherman, a certified kitchen designer and principal of Thyme & Place Design in Wyckoff, New Jersey. Style­wise, it might have been a scene straight out of That ’70s Show.

The kitchen formerly suffered from inadequate storage and work space as well as poor lighting.

“The homeowners wanted a more modern feel with a nod to traditional aesthetics as the home is a 1930s Cape Cod,” says Sherman, who is a member of the American Society of Interior Designers. Building code restrictions ruled out an addition to the kitchen, which is landlocked by the living and dining areas. Consequently, the success of the project pivoted on finding additional space within the existing footprint.

Eliminating a sliding glass door, whose access to the backyard was already blocked by a dining table and chairs, proved to be the game-changer. This allowed room for two of the features high on the homeowners’ wish list: a large farmhouse sink (with a space-saving wall-mounted faucet) and an oversized window that now floods the space with natural light and a beautiful view of the backyard.

Complementing that view is the soft blue/ gray of the new glazed cabinetry, a tone that’s reflected in the Najarine stone countertops and shimmering glass mosaic backsplash, Sherman says.

To make the most of the small space, “we used every available inch to maximum efficiency,” she says. A new 7-foot peninsula with storage functions as an informal dining area, prep zone and work surface. A large closet to the left of the peninsula houses oversized items as well as a microwave. Additional pantry storage for food is located to the right of the refrigerator in an alcove (the closet and pantry are not shown). Elsewhere, customized drawers hold dishware, cooking equipment and other kitchen essentials.

The homeowner is an “avid gardener who often repots plants and starts seeds in the kitchen,” Sherman says, so she chose easy-to-maintain wood-look porcelain tile floors. Improved task and ambient lighting was the final flourish. “Recessed ceiling lights provide general lighting while undercounter lighting illuminates the work surfaces,” Sherman says. All are set on dimmers, including a decorative pendant above the peninsula.

“No longer a lackluster, dysfunctional room,” the new kitchen is now the heart of the home, Sherman says. “It’s a place where the client can enjoy cooking, relaxing and the view from the kitchen for years to come.”

EDITOR’S NOTE: This project earned a 2021 Gold Design Excellence Award in the Residential Small Kitchen category from the American Society of Interior Designers, New Jersey chapter.